Ad-Express and Daily Iowegian, Centerville, IA

April 3, 2012

Appanoose County FY 2011 expenses, revenues move in opposite directions

By Michael Schaffer - Managing editor
Daily Iowegian

CENTERVILLE — According to an audit released by the state auditor, Appanoose County had local tax revenue of $13,772,379 which included $651,377 in tax credits from the state for the year ending June 30, 2011.

Appanoose County governmental activities revenues from FY 2010 to 2011 decreased 12.16 percent, or approximately $1,507,000. Governmental activities expenses from FY 2010 to  2011 increased 8.22 percent, or approximately $733,000.  

The audit released by Auditor David A. Vaudt on March 23, 2012

states Appanoose County forwarded $9,830,488 of the local tax revenue to the townships, school districts, cities and other taxing bodies in the county. The county retained $3,941,891 of the local tax revenue to finance county operations, a decrease of less than 1 percent from the prior year.  

Other revenues included charges for service of $779,279, operating grants, contributions and restricted interest of $4,899,218, capital grants, contributions and restricted interest of $277,170, local option sales and services tax of $534,891, hotel/motel tax of $214,298, unrestricted investment earnings of $31,636 and other general revenues of $210,788.

Appanoose County’s net assets increased 5.61 percent, or approximately $1,248,000 from June 30, 2010 to June 30, 2011 from $22,232,618 to $23,480,769. The county’s net assets consists of invested in capital assets (e.g., land, infrastructure, buildings and equipment) less the related debt.

For FY 2011, taxable property valuation increased approximately $9,046,000, but the tax levy decreased $0.25426 per $1,000 of taxable valuation.  Therefore, property tax revenue decreased approximately $2,000. The total Appanoose County assessed taxable property valuation for property tax payable in FY 2012 increased approximately $23,637,000. However the tax levy is set to decrease $0.10314 per $1,000 of taxable valuation. Property tax revenue is budgeted to increase approximately $292,000 next year.

From FY 2010 to FY 2011, countywide and rural services property taxable valuations increased approximately $9 million and $3.4 million, respectively. From FY 2011 to FY 2012, countywide and rural services property taxable valuations increased approximately $23.6 million and $15.3 million, respectively.

Amounts budgeted for disbursements in the FY 2012 operating budget are approximately $10.4 million, an increase of 9.47 percent over the FY 2011 actual disbursements of approximately $9.4 million. The county’s total governmental funds are projected to end FY 2012 with a decrease in fund balances of approximately $441,000 from FY 2011.

The audit's "Schedule of Findings and Questioned Costs" found two issues: County mental health department's lack of payments to Iowa Department of Human Services and rent charged and collected by the County Conservation Board.

The audit states Appanoose County's mental health department receives Medicaid billings from the Iowa Department of Human Services each month and the county mental health department is responsible for reviewing the billings and entering the data into the CoMIS computer system. The CoMIS computer system generates an amount payable to DHS, which is submitted to the county auditor’s office for payment.  

The audit states the county mental health department did not enter the Medicaid data into the CoMIS system or generate payments to DHS in a timely manner and as a result, Appanoose County has not paid DHS for medicaid billings dating back as far as September 1997 and now owe $817,712 as of June 30, 2011.  

The state auditor recommended the county’s central point coordinator implement procedures to ensure Medicaid billings are entered into the CoMIS computer system and payments to DHS are made in a timely manner.

The county responded the CPC has started a new program which will correct this and the state auditor accepted the response.

The state audit questioned why $6,000 in housing allowance paid to a conservation employee was credited to the Appanoose Conservation Foundation rather than to the county's general fund. Iowa Code requires all county revenues from taxes and other sources for general county services be credited to the general fund of the county.

The allowance was paid through payroll and was subject to federal and state income tax withholdings, as well as FICA and IPERS, the audit states.

The county's response was donations and Appanoose County Foundation revenues were used to build the house at Sharon Bluffs where the conservation employee lives. The Appanoose County Foundation has maintained the house since it was built in 1995. If the revenue was to be credited to the county, the county should have paid to have it built.

The state auditor acknowledged the county's response but concluded the county should consult with the county attorney regarding this matter.

A copy of the audit report is available for review in the Appanoose County Auditor’s office, in the office of Auditor of State and on the Auditor of State’s web site.